TAMPA, Fla. — The European Commission is joining forces with the European Space Agency and Europe’s investment arm to help more space companies get financing, including from a largely untapped multi-billion-dollar fund for strategic investments.
The tripartite agreement, signed Jan. 24 between the EC, ESA, and European Investment Bank (EIB), aims to streamline access to the variety of financial resources the region has on offer to grow its space ecosystem.
One of the main ways the EIB currently invests in space is through the Strategic European Security Initiative (SESI), a five-year 8 billion euro ($8.7 billion) fund launched in 2022 for investing in strategic assets — mainly for security and defense purposes.
EIB has approved about 2 billion euros in funding under SESI to date, a spokesperson for the bank said, but only a fifth of this has been earmarked for space despite the industry’s growing strategic importance.
Space is one of the key priority areas under SESI as Europe seeks more sovereign capabilities to catch up to the United States and other countries outside the European Union. These capabilities include a broadband constellation that Europe is preparing to contract by the end of March.
However, despite efforts to support domestic space projects, EC director-general for defense and space Timo Pesonen said access to financing remains challenging for the sector.
The three European institutions are planning regular meetings to share information about space financing bottlenecks as part of their alliance.
The EIB spokesperson said they would also seek to proactively identify promising European space projects, and offer them financial advice through EIB advisory services to accelerate and ease their access to debt financing.
They also intend to share best practices on public-private partnerships to ultimately enable more PPP space projects in the EU.
The partnership comes shortly after the European Investment Fund, the part of EIB focused on startups and small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), launched a 175 million euro equity fund for defense investments that could benefit space.
Europe also has a space entrepreneurial initiative called Cassini that includes a one billion euro seed and growth fund.